Year-end is approaching and for business owners, much of our time is firmly dedicated to completing unavoidable processes driven by financial and tax deadlines.
It’s the time of year when business owners find their calendars filling up with office time and less than inspiring meetings to balance the books. It’s also the time of year when we need to pay attention to the fundamentals that underpin sustainable business performance. But given our lack of time, it is this work “on” the business that often plays second fiddle to our pressure “in” the business tasks.
So how do you come out of another tough year, overcome fatigue and lack of time, and set yourself up for success and impact in the year ahead? The good news is that there are a few simple and practical things business owners can do to navigate rather than wander into the new year.
How to Set Up Your Business for Success in the New Fiscal Year
Time is arguably a business owner’s most valuable asset. Unsurprisingly, looking in the rearview mirror is often considered a luxury and looking ahead is done on the fly. But it’s quality rather than quantity that counts when it comes to working “on” your business.
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Setting aside a few hours of your time before June 30 will help you recognize your accomplishments and establish a solid foundation to move your business forward.
Bask in the year that has been
First, give your full attention to answering a few questions about the year that has (almost) passed.
What goals have you set for your business this year? What have you achieved? What are you proud of? What have you learned ? Where did you fail? What bothered? What opportunities remain untapped?
Here, you yourself have the opportunity to celebrate your company’s victories and sketch a glimpse of what can and should happen next.
Take stock of your strategy
With the clues you get from looking back, you can begin to imagine what success in your next year in business will look like. Prepare your laptop (or your trusty pen and paper) again, because now is the time to develop your strategy and make sure it will serve your goals for the next 12 months.
Imagine your business this time next year. What will you see, hear and feel if you have achieved your vision of success during this phase? Ask yourself lots of open-ended questions (who, what, where, why, when) to explore what is possible. Capture your answers in words so you have a tangible way to identify what success will look like and can plan to make sure it happens.
What strategic objectives did you set for yourself last year? Which of them remain relevant and which can be left out and replaced with new goals? Now write down three to five goals that you are committing to so you can achieve the vision you have set for your business.
Plan to deliver and deliver as planned
Congratulations! If you’ve invested the time to get to this point, you’re almost there, but don’t overlook this most important last step. Goals are nothing without a plan to achieve them.
What do you need to do to turn your strategic vision into reality and your goals into results in the coming year?
This step is as much about documenting your actions as it is about committing to the steps you will take to commit the time to achieving your plan. This is important because all business owners know that it is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running the business and in the process not looking at how you are following your long-term vision.
For each of your business goals, ask yourself what actions need to be taken to achieve that goal. Then think about what you (and your team, if you have one) might need to stop, start, or continue doing to focus on the things that will have the biggest impact. This is also an opportunity to prioritize your actions and determine what you might consider “quick wins”.
Finally, open your calendar and schedule time to progress on your goals. Seeing progress is the best way to motivate more progress, so set aside time each week and commit to reviewing your overall progress to plan at least quarterly. Also decide where you will do this to ensure you can get into the strategic space and avoid being uninterrupted.
You are now ready to go!
Take less than a day from your business to follow these three simple steps and you’ll get a tremendous amount of clarity, direction, and energy to move your business forward.
You are ready to start the new year with a plan and a renewed commitment to realize the endless possibilities for your business. Give yourself a pat on the back and get started (but don’t forget the tax)!